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James Franco got NYU professor fired, lawsuit claims

James Franco is on stage at the 2011 Santa Barbara International Film Festival, in Santa Barbara, Calif., Saturday, Jan. 29, 2011. AP Photo/Phil Klein

(CBS) A college professor claims he was fired for giving James Franco a D in his graduate school class.

Pictures: James Franco

According to the New York Post, Jose Angel Santana says he's suing New York University for wrongful termination, discrimination, and harassment, alleging he was demoted after slapping Franco with a low grade.

Franco, 33, was taking the course, Directing the Actor II, and Santana says he gave the actor a D because he missed 12 out of 14 classes.

Santana was later let go, and he's now taking aim at the way the school allegedly treated Franco. "In my opinion, they've turned the NYU graduate film degree into swag for James Franco's purposes, a possession, something you can buy," Santana, 58, said. He added, "The school has bent over backwards to create a Franco-friendly environment, that's for sure. The university has done everything in its power to curry favor with James Franco."

Meanwhile, a university spokesman said in a statement, "We have not seen the lawsuit yet, but the claims we are seeing in the media are ridiculous. Beyond that, it is regrettable and disappointing to see a faculty member -- former or otherwise -- discuss any student's grade for the purpose of personal publicity."

Back in Sept. 2010, Franco told Showbiz 411 he missed some of Santana's classes so he could shoot "127 Hours." Although he didn't mention Santana by name, he referred to the professor as "a decent guy."

Franco studied filmmaking at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, while also attending Columbia University's MFA writing program.